World Health Organization has called for urgent action to stem the rapid spread of COVID-19 across Africa, which is being fueled by a surge of more contagious variants of the disease from the third wave.
On Thursday, World Health Organization warned African continent about the surging third wave of Covid-19, driven by new and faster variants of the coronavirus that caused it.
During a virtual briefing, WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said new cases have increased by an average of 25 percent in Africa for six straight weeks, to almost 202,000 in the week ending on June 27. She said deaths rose by 15 percent across 38 African countries to nearly 3,000 in the same period.
Moeti said this wave is being driven by more contagious COVID-19 variants, “raising the threat to Africa to a whole new level.” She said among the 14 African countries now in resurgence, 12 have detected variants of concern, including nine with the Delta variant, originally identified in India.
Meanwhile, she said the Alpha and Beta variants have been reported in 32 and 27 countries respectively.
Moeti said hygiene, social distancing and mask wearing can certainly help slow the spread, but globally, it has been shown that vaccines offer the best path toward ending devastating surges.
“The speed and scale of Africa’s third wave is like nothing we have seen before,” said Moeti. “Cases are doubling every three weeks, compared to every four weeks at the start of the second wave. Almost 202,000 cases were reported in the past week and the continent is on the verge of exceeding its worst week ever in this pandemic.”
In the same period, WHO reports deaths have risen by 15% across 38 African countries to nearly 3,000. The jump is largely due to the highly transmissible coronavirus variants, which have spread to dozens of countries. The most contagious delta variant has been found in 16 countries. It reportedly has become the dominant strain in South Africa.
Moeti says more people are falling ill and requiring hospitalization, even people younger than 45 years. She says evidence is growing that the delta variant is causing longer and more severe illness.
With Africa’s lack of life-saving vaccines, Moeti says it is important for people to practice public health measures, such as wearing masks, social distancing, and frequent handwashing to prevent the disease from spreading.
Vaccines are proving highly effective against the COVID-19 variants and in ending devastating surges of severe cases of the disease. They are widely available in the world’s richest countries, but not Africa.
Moeti is urgently appealing to countries to share their excess doses to help plug the continent’s vaccine gap.
‘‘Africa must not be left languishing in the throes of its worst wave